In response to an appeal by the Anaheim City School District, the FCC has partially reversed a denial of funding by the Universal Service Administrative Company involving Evolution Data Optimized (EVDO) service and connection cards.
The Commission noted that EVDO connection cards are devices used for mobile broadband and are a way to access wireless Internet on a computer via the cell phone network rather than through a Wi-Fi connection, and that users may have a choice between choosing EVDO cards that are sold on a pre-paid basis or that are tied to a service subscription. The FCC found that EVDO mobile broadband services warranted E-rate support as a type of wireless Internet access designed for portable devices. However, the FCC required that the School District allocate the cost of service provided to off-campus locations, which would not be eligible for funding.
While permitting funding for the EVDO service, the FCC upheld the USAC’s denial of funding for the EVDO cards. The FCC suggested that it had no choice but to find the EVDO cards to be provided in or with end-user equipment, as the applicant had failed to demonstrate eligibility as internal connections. The Commission further denied the School District an opportunity to waive its procedural rules in order to amend its funding request to include the EVDO cards on the ground that substantive changes may not be made to FCC Forms 471 months after initial submission, unless an oversight can be attributed to administrative or clerical error.
In this decision, the Commission has clarified that the delivery of wireless Internet services is eligible for E-rate funding but that the equipment associated with it is not. It is incumbent upon E-rate funding applicants to draw an appropriate distinction if equipment can be differentiated from end-use functions.